A couple more cars pulled in last night, waking me up briefly when the lights would turn into the empty lot. Everyone minded their own business and I ended up waking up at about 7. Mt. Shasta is blocking the sun from my tent, so I was able to sleep unobstructed by the light for a little longer than normal. I get out of my tent just before 7:30 and make quick work of packing everything up. I stop along the way to I-5 to grab some breakfast and then make my way south just before 9. There is some construction going on causing all of the traffic to be in the left lane with the right lane torn up. The shoulder is still there though, so I’m riding along the Interstate for about 2 miles with no cars within 15 feet of me or so. This is a rare occasion and I’m definitely loving it. The love stops when I get to a bridge and the shoulder is torn up. There are a few steps of sort leading down maybe 3 feet to where they have torn up the road. I do my best to ride down these, but unfortunately I hit a jagged rock, cause my back tire to pop instantly. Not the way I wanted to start my day, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I fix the tire and continue south until a sign boots me off at the northern edge of the town of Mt. Shasta. I navigate through the town for a few miles until it connects up with I-5 again, but I take SR 89 instead.
My friend Kevin recommended that I go this way, so I figure I may as well. I’m not in a huge hurry to get to Sacramento, and if this route gives some better scenery and has a cooler temperature due to being in the mountains, I’m on board. Kevin suggested a route to me last summer that took me through Saratoga, WY into northern Colorado and then down the Poudre Canyon to Fort Collins. That route was sweet, so until he steers me wrong I’ll keep trying them. This route starts with about 5 miles of climbing and then a quick 5 mile descent into McCloud. I think about taking a quick stop here, but there is a restaurant about 15 miles up the road that I’ll be grabbing some food at. It seems to be a slow climb after McCloud on a pretty narrow road with minimal traffic, except that the traffic which does exist seems to be mostly logging trucks going way too fast. As these trucks blow by me in either direction the sawdust coming off the trees gets in my face and finds a way into my eyes often enough even with my glasses on. When I get close to Bartle Lodge it looks empty and and I notice the sign out front only lists hours for Wednesday-Sunday, so that’s a bummer. Nothing I can do about it though, so onward I push. It’s another 25 miles or so with some uphill and some downhill until Burney Falls. This is one of the highlights Kevin told me is a must stop.
I pull into the park and ask the girl at the gate if I have to pay to get in. She shakes her head and tells me where the waterfall is. I stop off at the guest center first though to grab some food as I’m quite hungry by this point. I overpay for one of the most bland turkey sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, but I guess that’s what these types of places do, they get you in and then charge whatever they want because you’ll pay it. Airports, sports stadiums, music venues, state and national parks, and I imagine the list goes on. I park my bike and make the hike down to the bottom of the waterfall. You can feel the cold mist as you walk down the trail and there are plenty of people out here snapping pictures and what not. No one is in the water though. I’m very hot at this point though and also quite dirty from a couple of days of riding without jumping into any water source. So I plunge right in. It is so clear and so cold and feels amazing. Took my breath away with how cold it was. I try to swim out to the falls, but get way too cold in the water so turn around. At this point I feel like I’m in a zoo or something. I notice after climbing out of the water that everyone down on the rocks is looking at me, like I’m the crazy one out here. Whereas I don’t see why someone would come here and not go for a swim. I don’t spend long down here and hike back up, get on the bike and start back down the road. It takes less than 5 minutes of riding for my entire body and shorts to dry out, and I kind of wish I had another body of water to jump into again since it’s pretty hot out now. I’d guess somewhere in the low 90’s.
There are plenty of trees giving off shade, but the heat is still making it’s presence known. I ride through mostly forested land, some of which had been burnt recently, and stop in Hat Creek at an RV Camp that has a restaurant/convenience store. My sandwich wasn’t nearly satisfying enough at Burney Falls. I grab a burger and drink about a pitcher of water, both of which were incredible. The word on the street here is that it’s basically all uphill to Lassen National Park, which isn’t the most ideal situation but there is also nothing I can do about it, so I just get on the bike and set out to get it done. I ride through lava fields and forest, misty uphill to Old Station and stop for some Gatorade and a water refill. Another 10 miles or so down the road I stop at a Vista Point to catch some shade. While I’m here a pick up truck pulls in to use the bathroom and then the guy comes over to chat with me for a bit. He gives me a cold bottle of water and guava fruit drink of some sort, since he is nearly home and thinks I could use them more than he could. I’ll never pass up some cold water and gladly take it from him and start chatting with him a bit. He’s a marathon runner is returning from a trip around Yosemite to his home in Red Bluff. He offers a ride down Red Bluff if I don’t want to do all the climbing through the National Park, which I think about for a brief minute but decline because I think I’d regret it in the long run. He takes off and I leave shorty after, making it to park entrance a little before 8.
It’s $10 for bikes to enter, and $20 for a car. This makes zero sense to me. If I had a friend with me, we’d be charged the same amount on 2 bikes or in 1 car. When obviously the car leaves more pollution and takes up much more space, but what can you do. I get in and start riding through the park. It’s mostly uphill for the first 20 miles or so. I think about stopping, but it feels good to climb at this point in the evening. The sun goes down, it’s close to a full moon and is a clear night, and there is essentially no traffic in either direction at this point. So I make the push to the top, stopping a couple of times in the process to snack on some cashews and drink water. The views out here are incredible, and I imagine it looks amazing during the day, but I’ve got the unique experience of doing this in the moonlight. The highest elevation the road gets to is 8511, and after this its about an 11 mile descent out of the park, which I make in less than half an hour. I smell sulfur on the way down and hear a boiling sound at a certain point, so stop to check out boiling mud on the side of the road. Other than this I just cruise straight out of the park and then pull off on the first road I see. This takes me away from the main road and into a large dirt area that has been cleared out. I set up my tent and quickly fall asleep since I’m quite tired after all of this climbing. Tomorrow I hope to make it to Sacramento.
10:35:33 in the saddle
12.4 Avg. MPH
10390 feet of elevation gained
7477 feet of elevation lost